Red Card for Climate Inaction

Breakfree2Red Card for Climate Inaction. The Climate alarm could not have been much louder than the special report (SR15) that has just been released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). While the Paris Agreement presented the famous target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or well below 2.0 degrees, the special report shows that such a range may actually be political wishful thinking. The Special Report clearly shows that a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels will bring about severe changes compared to current extreme weather events.

Professing a diagnosis is easier than providing a solution, especially when you do not wish to ruffle feathers. Most scientists and laymen agree that although global warming has risen and abated in the past, what has happened since the industrial revolution is a vertical climb that shows no sign of reversion. It is also generally agreed that the catastrophic rise is largely systemic – caused by the exploitative economic system that the world is locked on. It is this rigged system that blocks the routes to the needed climate action.

Is it not known that the problem is about the continual burning of fossil fuels that stokes the atmosphere with greenhouse gases? Why is the world reluctant to stop the extraction and burning of fossil fuels even though these are known to be detrimental? The answer is simply that the powers-that-be prefer profit to people and the planet. So, business as usual continues and disaster brings even more profit through displacement of poor people and the grabbing of resources that the poor and the vulnerable are unable to access or return to.

The world will cringe at the dire prognosis of the report, and then go right ahead to dig up more coal, more crude oil and proceed with more fracking. Governments will still dig for coal and destroy forests in the process, despite loud alarms raised by forest protectors such as the ones at the Hambach Forest in Germany. And in Nigeria, the flaring of associated gas will continue and the dream of a superhighway through the last pristine forest will persist in Cross River State.

Happily, the appeal court at The Hague sided with Urgenda in the case against the Dutch government and declared that the government has a duty to take adequate climate action as a means of protecting the citizens from climate impacts and for securing the human rights. Interestingly the court also discounted the Dutch government’s argument that the carbon being pumped into the atmosphere today will be sucked out in future. We note that SR15 also acknowledges that the carbon-sucking technologies being bandied about are unproven.

The IPCC report diagnosed the problem and raised the alarm urging politicians and economic leaders to act. However, some of the suggested actions are equally alarming and will likely add more problems for the poor, the unprotected and the vulnerable, in the unfolding climate chaos.

The voluntary, nationally determined contribution of the Paris Agreement is clearly not the solution. It is time for nations to step up and accept legally binding emissions reduction based on historical and current carbon emissions. The alarm has been sounded. It is no more time to sleep.

We are told that the window for halting the chaotic climate march is a narrow twelve years. It is stated that by 2030, the global emissions of carbon dioxide must be cut by 45 percent from 2010 levels. It is also estimated that by 2050 renewables should provide 85 percent of global electricity.

So, what is to be done? When the IPCC says that action must be taken to ensure that the store of carbon in the atmosphere is brought to net zero, what is meant is that the amount of carbon released from excessive consumption and burning of fossil fuels and the like must be equal to the amount of carbon that is captured and stored somewhere, locked in sinks or deflected by some other means. These proposed actions, the hallmark of market environmentalism, are the real alarm bells that we should wake up to.

And, we cannot forget that about 7 million square kilometres will be needed for so-called energy crops.  That sounds nice, no? The more understandable names for those crops are biofuel and agrofuel crops. These are crops grown to feed machines or to provide biomass for some synthetic processes. An uptake of that massive size of land away from food crops will definitely bring profit to industrial farmers; promote genetically engineered crops and attendant agrotoxics while raising global hunger and diverse social malaise. Also, more forests will be designated as carbon sinks with corresponding exclusion of communities from enjoying and managing their common heritage.

It is estimated that up to $2.4 trillion would have to be invested in energy systems in the next two decades to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is at a time that the world cannot raise $10 billion for Climate Finance.

Catastrophe is not inevitable if we can wake up from slumber and face reality.

Polluting and capturing and locking up pollutants in some carbon prisons, is not a new idea. It is a brilliant marketing spin. It allows business as usual, permits climate irresponsibility and delivers heavy cash to the polluters. For example, oil companies that use associated gas to literally scrape the bottom of oil wells will claim they are engaged in carbon capture and sequestration – even though they release the carbon in the first instance by drilling for oil. Companies engaged in geoengineering will don their beautiful badges as climate engineers and work to deploy an array of climate-interfering planetary experiments – including cloud whitening, solar mirrors in the sky, other forms of solar radiation management as well as ocean fertilization. Yes, with net zero carbon targets we can keep cranking up global temperatures but hope that “we have the technologies” to handle the problems.

Humankind’s techno optimism gives policy makers that assurance and also that the oceans and genetically engineered trees can suck carbon from the atmosphere. It assures them that we can ape volcanoes and release particles into the sky that would block the sun and cool the earth. Suddenly it is as though our planetary systems are not interconnected and one part can be tweaked without a corresponding result elsewhere. But, who would really care if the negative impacts can be deflected on those destined for the slaughter?

Catastrophe is not inevitable if we can wake up from slumber and face reality. Life style changes and alternative investment patterns can no longer be delayed. Investment in socialized forms of renewable energy cannot be postponed. Fossil fuels must be seen as stranded or bad assets and left in the ground. Agroecological food production cools the planet, so investment and support must be extended to that and to small scale producers.

The cost of inaction or bad action is extreme. Temperature increases will make it impossible for certain crops, including maize, rice and wheat to be cultivated. Millions more will be hit by flooding. Sea level will rise and coastal erosion will be more dramatic. With the suite of negative changes, the tide of climate refugees will rise.

The voluntary, nationally determined contribution of the Paris Agreement is clearly not the solution. It is time for nations to step up and accept legally binding emissions reduction based on historical and current carbon emissions. The alarm has been sounded. It is no more time to sleep.

Read your Eco-Instigator #20

AA8EB60C-09EB-4BBE-B281-BF6E63FB4206The June 2018 edition of Eco-Instigator is available online. In this edition, we serve you reports, stories and articles on hunger and fossil politics. There is a report from an agroecology workshop held in Thika, Kenya, which brought together farmers and advocacy organizations to interrogate the concept of agroecology as the path to sustainable agricultural practice with local-knowledge based science.
We have had occasion to denounce the permitting nature of the Nigerian National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). We regret that rather than improving, the agency continues to slide and at the close of 2017 endorsed the importation of genetically modified maize that had earlier been impounded and ordered to be repatriated by the importers. Shocking? We bring you our statement: When GMO applications are mere formalities.
False solutions orchestrated by greedy corporations and backed by allied promoters alike are being propagated as remedies to the food crisis. They all claim they want to feed hungry Africans. Their thinly veiled neocolonial arguments are unfortunately bought by governments that ought to protect our peoples rather than the profit profiles of these entities. We serve you articles that urge that we tread with caution in order not to compound our food production problems. We bring you an interesting article: Science with Caution: Why GMOs are a Bad Idea to challenge your thinking and provoke corresponding actions.
For over one year, Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital has been blanketed by soot from a variety of hydrocarbon pollution sources. We bring you report from an #EndtheSoot rally that was held in Port Harcourt to raise the awareness of the impact of the down pour of soot, its attendant effects and to demand that the polluters are brought to book.
We also bring a concise and highly informative paper on oil pollution in South Sudan. It is written by the executive director of our partner organisation in that country. Read Environmental and Public Health Catastrophe in the South Sudanese Oil fields: Oil, Wealth, and Health.
As usual, we serve you interesting poems from renowned poets and also books you should read.

Download and read your copy Eco-Instigator #20
Until victory!

Nnimmo

Decolonise, Revive, Transform. Eco-Instigator #17 now online

Eco-Instigator #17 cover

It has been a very eventful year and HOMEF is happy to serve you a menu of key environmental reports. These events cover our work with communities of fisher folks as well as our connections to fishermen elsewhere. As an organisation that treasures knowledge generation and sharing, we keep on learning from our interactions with communities.

The struggle for safe food continues. Our cover story brings you Africa’s first Earth Jurisprudence graduates. See the article Decolonise, Revive, Transform.

Download full edition here: Eco-instigator #17

Stand with Acción Ecológica

accion-ecologicaAcción Ecológica presents evidence 7 PM GMT today on why the government of Ecuador should not shut down the organisation. Join and watch the live streaming by clicking here at that time.

Acción Ecológica is an Ecuadorian ecological organization that has worked to defend nature for 30 years and is also an integral part of the International Federation for Human Rights – FIDH. Acción Ecológica is convinced that it is only by defending the territories and peoples that we can support Nature’ reproduction of life as well as the rights of humans.

The group has been remained strong in the defence of the rights of Nature and peoples despite periodic persecution by authorities. Their work has inspired many activists and communities around the world. They are central to the work of Oilwatch International in pushing for the urgent transition from fossil fuels if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming.

They will not give, because according to then: ‘We will continue defending human rights and nature because “We are like the chaff of the moor that starts and grows again …”.’

As a mark of solidarity, we call on everyone to log on and watch the presentation by Acción Ecológica at 2 PM Ecuadorian time or – 7.00 pm GMT today 6 January 2017.

 

Rising Martyrdom of Earth Defenders

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Eco-Instigator #13 reflects on GMOs in Nigeria, the rising martyrdom of Earth defenders; the upcoming Ogoni clean-up and other critical issues. We bring you books you should read. And poetry!

This edition has two key articles on environmental justice – one is on the rising martyrdom of earth defenders written by Hannibal Rhoades of Gaia Foundation. The second article is on what it means to to fight for environmental justice in the Maghreb. That article is penned by none other than Hamza Hamouchene – an outstanding Algerian activist and writer.

We serve you with reports from the ongoing debates on the genetically modified organisms (GMO) debacle in Nigeria. We also bring you the submission by key activists against gene drive technology to the recently concluded conference of the IUCN.

Ogoni/Niger Delta Clean–up is picking up and there are concerns about the methods of tackling the resurrected militancy that stop Niger Delta. Will wielding the military big stick (Operation Crocodile Smile) solve the problem?

In Books You Should Read, we highlight Living in Fear, by Juan Lopez Villar. It is a book on the unending Wars, conflicts and natural resources in central Africa. It is one book that you should do all you can to read.

Do you have a story to tell? A poem, photograph or an article/report to share? We are waiting for you.

Until victory!

Down load eco-instigator-13 here

The Bite of Biafra

We all BiafransThe Bite of Biafra*

 

The name, Biafra has been around as the name of a bight far longer than the brief moment during which Eastern Nigeria took it on. The Bight of Biafra is that part of the Gulf of Guinea renamed the Bight of Bonny by Nigeria in 1975, possibly in an effort to snuff Biafra out of memory. Some names simply stay stuck even after they may have been dropped officially. Many unyielding street names attest to this phenomenon also. It is a lesson of history.

Current contestations have pushed Biafra in our faces and we simply have to deal with it. Chido Onumah in the title article of his book, We Are All Biafrans admonishes, “while I believe Nigeria is negotiable, I do not think any attempt to negotiate Nigeria can and should be done solely on the basis of ethnic, religious or cultural affinity. That is my position on the Biafran issue.”[1] We agree with him. These cleavages cannot define who we are or under what political architecture we chose to live in.

Earlier in the chapter of the same book titled 2015: Why Buhari matters, Chido writes and I quote:

“The improvement of millions of our country men and women, the wanton abuse of rights, the unmitigated corruption, alienation, internal colonisation and exacerbation of the fault lines of the country, are not issues that the current political order can tackle.”[2]

These fault lines are not only socio-economic or political, they are also physical. They are pervasive and democratically distributed across the land.

Permit me to reiterate that we are indeed all Biafrans. Consider the forces of displacement that pushed some Nigerians into the geographical zone that took that name. Today, the forces may not be the same, but Nigerians are being displaced, marginalised and pushed into conflicts of various degrees of viciousness. There are enclaves of Biafra everywhere in Nigeria. You may not like the name, you may even change it, but Biafra sticks to us like our shadows.

Accepting the inevitability of our identity may well help us to find the glue that would hold us together, or give us the boldness to accept to live together in a state of flexibility. Rigidity often leads to collapse. And that is why forced codes of relationships cannot build trust, solidarity or cohesion. Our fractiousness and selfishness speak to this reality.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, they can be crushed underfoot.

Desertification threatens to swallow up the slim tracts that pass for the heritage of our compatriots. Water stress, including the shrinkage of Lake Chad to less than 10 per cent of the size it had at independence, displaces millions of herders and fisher folks. Toxic effluents from tanneries and sundry industrial outfits and wastes from power plants turn our rivers into adversaries.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, their lives count for little.

Gully erosion challenges the notion of Biafra. It also reinforces it. These huge gullies have literally become insatiable mouths that swallow everything in its path that does not scamper away on time. Farmlands, homesteads, sundry infrastructure disappearing before our eyes.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, they should be glad to have the earth provide them graves.

Some fellow countrymen and women think they can hide away under trees in thick forests, living with nature and communing with other species, our relatives. But we need superhighways with internet backbones; we need shopping malls and we need top notch hotels. Highways chalk up cheap political points for making first, second or third year anniversaries. So, deforestation defrocks forest communities. Who needs monkeys or chimps when we can make ourselves spectacles for the rich.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. The are voiceless and easy to overlook. What is the purchasing power of a forest dweller? What do they add to our GDP?

Coastal erosion and subsiding lands. Sea level rise. If the guns cannot silent dissent, these will swallow them up. Add unrelenting pollutions and infernal gas flares and we will soon be pumping fists of victory in the toxic air.

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The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us, and our challenges can be traced to similar roots. Games of power and reckless exploitation and accumulation. One powerful truth is that the oppressed in one are the same as the oppressed in the other. That defines our all being Biafrans. Being pressed into the borders called Nigeria, we ignore that pressure at our peril.

We could push ahead in fear or hate. We could also choose to sit together and deliberate on how to ease the shocks, overcome the odds, build love and solidarity and introduce some flexibility that considers the possibility of the bight in the Biafra in which all Biafrans live. It is a choice. Inaction may shut the bight but usher in the bite of Biafra.

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*A reflection by Nnimmo Bassey on Chido Onumah’s We Are All Biafrans- A participant-Observer’s intervention in a country sleepwalking to disaster. The book was presented at Shehu Musa Yar’Arua Centre, Abuja, on 31 May 2016

 

 

[1] Onumah, Chido (2016), We Are All Biafrans, Lagos, Parresia Publishers Ltd, p.162

[2] Ibid p.10

In Defence of Life – a new Documentary by Gaia Foundation

In Defence of Life“It’s about grabbing a part of the Earth and placing a mark of ownership on something that actually owns you. It doesn’t add up.”

In this interview poet, Earth Defender and Right Livelihood Award Winner Nnimmo Bassey challenges the assumptions at the very root of the mining industry- that we need to and should mine more. Discussing the vast damage and poverty oil extraction has brought to his home country of Nigeria, Nnimmo argues that even the most ‘responsible’ mining operations leave behind irreparable harm. His message is that, though it seems unthinkable to many, we must move away from an extractive relationship with the planet. Watch Nnimmo’s interview here: vimeo.com/155553521

This interview accompanies In Defence of Life, a documentary that follows the trials and triumphs of four communities fighting back against mining giants. Watch it here: vimeo.com/162669257

Filmed by Jess Phillimore
Edited by Joseph Lambert
For The Gaia Foundation

From Gaia Foundation